Mastery, Integration and Wonder: The Model That Transforms Science Instruction

John D. Mays discusses a model of science education that teaches mastery and wonder of the subject.

The first goal of science instruction is for students to learn science. This requires replacing the ubiquitous “cram-pass-forget” cycle with a pedagogy aimed at learning, mastery and retention. But mastery is not a goal that can be pursued in isolation from the whole realm of qualities that make us human — the immense spectrum of the human spirit and mind. The new model proposed here has mastery rmly in view, but coupled with a fundamental engagement with the human spirit. Our pedagogy must emerge from an anthropology. First, we appeal to the human spirit through the natural human faculty of wonder. Next, we must involve the whole mind in the learning process through integration in four key areas, each of which is of supreme importance to science instruction — epistemology, mathematics, history and language. Finally, we teach for mastery with a fully articulated set of teaching practices. The goal of mastery is supported by the integration, and the entire structure is propelled by the never-ending capacity of humans for marveling at our beautiful world.

John D. Mays

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University, John D. Mays spent 14 years working in the engineering and engineering management areas of electrical, controls and telecommunications systems. Vocationally drawn toward the field of education, John acquired a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Houston in 1989, and subsequently completed 36 hours of graduate study in physics at Texas A&M. Shortly after joining the faculty at Regents School of Austin in 1999, John earned his master’s of liberal arts degree at St. Edward’s University. John served as the Math/Science Department Chair at Regents School from 2001 until 2009, when he became the school’s Director of the Laser Optics Lab. He founded Novare Science & Math in 2009, and is the author of numerous student science texts and teacher resources. Now working full-time as a writer, publisher and consultant, John continues to teach students part time at the Laser Optics Lab at Regents.

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